At the root of the game, golf is supposed to be fun.
Sure, there are the all-to-often frustrations that make most golfers want to toss a new bag of clubs in the lake and shout obscenities, but the game is supposed to be enjoyed.
Owners of Dakota Creek Golf and Country Club in Custer have tried to everything they could to make sure the game remains a fun, relaxing experience.
“We want to make sure everyone feels really comfortable here,” course owner and architect Pamela Smith said in a phone interview. “It’s a real low key atmosphere out here … We play to the everyday golfer. This is just s fun place to be.”
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The low-key atmosphere extends to the dress code, which Smith said permits just about everything except “swimming suits, cowboys boots and high heels.”
Adding to the enjoyment factor are some scenic views of the San Juan Islands.
“More people come up to me and say it’s the prettiest course they’ve ever been on,” Smith said. “There are no homes and you can see right up the Georgia Strait … It is built out in the forest, and you gets these spectacular views.”
Though the course may not be as well known as some of Whatcom County’s other links, Smith feels the course compares well.
“I’d say we’re right there in the upper bracket,” she said. “We say it’s the best golf buy in the county. It may not be the best course, and it may not be the cheapest course, but it is the best golf for your dollar in this area.”
Smith takes us on a quick tour of the course:
“It has the ‘Grand Canyon’ shot. It’s very intimidating hitting over the canyon. It (the canyon) is only 80 yards, but the fact that it’s there is very intimidating. Plus it’s very beautiful.”
Superintendent’s favorite hole
“Par 4, but you have a shot at reaching the green. He (course superintendent James Bowyer) really likes the way it looks. It’s flanked to the left by a big fir tree. It makes it look really nice, but we want to take it out because it causes a lot of trouble. It came within two minutes of coming down once, but his saw ran out of gas … It (the tree) grows profusely because of all the watering of the green and the fertilizing of the green, so it probably grows three times as much any fir in the Northwest.”
“It’s the toughest in the county. A lot of people come in here and say it may be the toughest in state. It’s a great way to start people off. I wish it was a little further down the course. It’s a par 5 and people always remember first day they par it. Woods on both sides. Right over the 150-yard marker is the salmon spawning green, which adds to the difficulty. Then you’re going uphill to the green, and good luck.”
“Its’ wide open and has lots of forgiveness. When you’re going toward green, you’re overlooking the whole county and can see the San Juan Islands, and on a clear day you can see into the Georgia Strait.
Hole not to underestimate
“It’s a 78-yard par 3. It looks like piece of cake. I mean, 78 yards — your grandma can do it, right. But there are woods within 10 feet of the green — just off the collar, so not even 10 feet. You have to be on target and hit that green.”
Worst place for ball to land
“The right side of No. 2 or shooting over the canyon on No. 3 is a bad place. On this particular course, it’s really a thinking man’s course. The pros have told me if you can master this course, you can play anywhere in the world because it has every lie you’ll find anywhere.”
Toughest green to read
“It’s the newest green. It was recently redone. It looks flat as a pancake but has very subtle breakings in it. When you reach it, you’ve gone through 17 other greens with lots of undulation. Then this one looks as flat as a pancake, but it’s not.”
Best hole to grip it and rip it
“Lots of open spaces on both sides. It’s a par 4, playing uphill to a gorgeous setting. My favorite hole to look at in the evening … It’s long and uphill so it plays even longer. We keep our rough cut short, so there’s lots of forgiveness.”
Best risk-reward shot
“It was the last hole we built because didn’t know how we were going to do with it … What we ended up with is … a blind hole. You can’t see the green from the tee. If you play it between the two fir trees that are straight ahead, you’ll be fine. It’s a love-hate hole. Once you learn to play it, you love it. But before then, you hate it. We suggest using a 5-wood and give it all you’ve got, but be straight.”
“Play conservatively and have fun. That’s what it’s supposed to be about. Enjoy the quiet and scenery. The course is in great condition. Hasn’t always been that way.”